All of these devotionals are the result of my own personal reflection on God's word. If you find these devotionals helpful, please subscribe and share them! Thank you for reading!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Matthew 13:44

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field" 

The kingdom of God is worth more than all of your possessions but make no mistake, you cannot afford the kingdom of God. If the owner of that field knew just exactly what was in it, he would have never sold it.  God cannot be bought.  However, to all those who seek it with joy it is freely given  to them by the Father through the adoption afforded by the blood of the True Son, Jesus Christ.

You are a son of God if you are in Christ and a co-heir with Christ to the riches of the Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God is freely given to everyone who considers God their Father and loves, honors, and obeys him as a child would their parent.  God would never think to make his children earn his inheritance, but freely gives it.   Not only this, he purchased men and women by the blood of Jesus as sons and daughters just so more people can share in his inheritance.

We have a gracious, forgiving, and benevolent Father!  The entire world and everything in it belongs to Him;  it is his inheritance to pass on to his children.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mark 8:12

He sighed deeply and said, "Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it."

There is such disappointment in Jesus's sigh.  Where there is no faith, there can be no miracles (Mark 6:5-6).  Why?  Because even if miracles, signs, and wonders were done, they would not be believed.

The LORD through the prophet of Habakkuk states, "Look at the nations and watch--and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." (Hab 1:5)  Miracles do not always lead to faith (John 12:37).  This is just as Isaiah said, "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?" (Isa 53:1)  If the heart is skeptical to begin with, miracles, no matter how powerful, are explained away.

Counter intuitively, faith, no matter the amount, is required for miracles, not the other way around.  Faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains (Mat 17:20).  If you cannot move mountains, it means your faith is not even as large as a mustard seed. Miracles only happen for the sake of those who will increase in faith because of them.  This is why miracles are prevalent in countries like China and Nigeria because they are more willing to believe than in skeptical "enlightened" nations like America, England, and Sweden.

It turns out the more skeptical we grow, the blinder we all become.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

John 10:10

"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

What is it to have life no less have life abundantly?  Are we not alive?  What exactly is Jesus doing?

It all may be simpler than you think.  To be alive is to have life in you but life as we know it is ephemeral.  It does not last. Though we are alive right now we may not be alive tomorrow.  In that sense, we are barely alive, kept tethered to this world and animated only by a thin thread.  Let's say the average lifespan is 80 years which is 5.81 x10^-9 (.00000000581) the age of the universe.  Put another way, if the age of the universe was condensed to a year, one life span would take 0.18 seconds (180 milliseconds) to complete (about time it takes to do a Google search and half the time it takes to blink your eyes once (300-400 milliseconds).  That's 5 generations per second with the human race appearing only in the last 12 and a half minutes.

So we are barely alive, containing only enough life to last a short while.   But if we have eternal life in us, then we are eternally alive.  And if that Eternal Life only exists in God, then only if God dwells within us can we live eternally.  And if Jesus is God who truly did rise from the dead, he must possess eternal life.  And if he dwells within us by faith, how much then will he have come so that we may have life and have it in abundance!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Romans 8:29

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

 All those whom the Father beckons to him are made and conformed into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  We all were made to be perfect vessels of God, idols in which God dwells and images that reflect his glory.  (Gen 1:27) But just as a cracked pot cannot hold water, a sinful person cannot hold God.  That is why we are being formed and conformed to the image or likeness of the Son, the perfect human container of God, in order that we too might hold life and life in abundance. Without God, we are but empty shells.  We were made to hold Him.

 So how does one so large and so infinite as the Creator God fit inside a person?  The answer is simply that He does not, but rather he fills and overflows in you so that you may be poured out again and again and yet always being filled.  Our God is a never ending spring and whoever drinks of him shall never thirst again not because they will never again have need of water, but they will have water in abundance and will never go without.

There is not just a "God shaped void" in our lives, but our entire being is a void to be filled.  We were born with nothing and will leave with nothing because we were meant to hold eternity within us.  We were meant for God.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Those who have run the race before us, those great heroes of the faith we love and celebrate, look onward towards us at the finish line cheering us on. The call to run and endure is a call to discipline ourselves so that we may last the entire race.  Just as those who train for marathons train for months to condition their bodies, so to do we condition our spirits so that temptation and sin may not drag us down.

And Jesus is our coach who pushes us past what we thought were our limits and encourages us to grow at every step.  We may not always like his discipline, but it is for our good in order that we may share his holiness and produce the fruit of righteousness upon which our salvation depends.  Just as it is useless to have a personal trainer and listen to none of their advice or do anything they suggest, so too is a disobedient Christian stagnant in their own growth.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mark 10:21

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

This particular man had everything: money, power, fame, youth, and a morally upright lifestyle. And yet we still see him running to Jesus and falling on his knees with a question burning in his heart. "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"  It was an obvious question with an obvious answer:  obey the commandments, but all these things this man has done and still he feels empty.  "There must be more to life than this?"

And then, Jesus tells him what he wanted to hear, that indeed he has overlooked something, and that there was but one thing he lacked:  A personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  The command he gives here is to be taken together.  Charity and altruism is not enough:  he must follow Jesus, yet still he must give all that he has to truly follow.

All his life he kept the law and was left unfulfilled, and yet when the time came and the personal invite from Jesus Christ into a real relationship with the Divine Trinity was offered, the one and only thing which can fill that spiritual void, the man walked away back to his wealth which has left him so empty before, back to his life of longing for more.  In the end, even the man who has everything but has not Christ is left wanting more.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

1 Corinthians 13:13

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

There is a reason these three are kept close together.  Although the greatest of these three is love, love is nothing without faith and hope. God is love, of that there is no doubt, and like love there will be times when he is readily apparent and times when he is not so easily perceived yet nonetheless there.  So what is it during these dry times that perseveres love and sustains it through trials? It is the work of faith and hope together.

So many people believe that love will last, love is all they need, and love will keep us together.  Love is an emotional, spiritual, and physical bondedness to someone and like most bonds it can be broken.

Faith (i.e. trust) in God and in another is what allows love to take place.  Faith comes first and then love follows.  You cannot love someone you do not trust.  Hope, which stems from faith, is what keeps love alive even in the darkest times.  Without faith and hope, love cannot grow and God cannot be.  So the question to ask someone you want to marry isn't "Do I love you?" but rather "Will it last?"  It is God who joins two people together (God is love) and if your faith and hope are in Him, then let no man separate.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Jeremiah 18:6

"He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel."

Acknowledging that not all Israel is Israel (Rom 9:6) and that true Jews are not circumcised outwardly but inwardly of the heart (Deut 30:6; Rom 2:29).  A true Jew obeys the laws of his Lord so that both Jew and Gentile are united in faith and obedience to Jesus Christ.

And so we are clay in the Potter's hands.  If the pot shows imperfections in shape, it is undone and redone again and again until at last it holds the perfect shape to be able to perform the task for which the potter designates.  However, we are not pots.  When we are torn down because of sin it is painful.  If we continue in sin and are unrepentant, the clay is just throw out to be trampled because it has already hardened and can no longer be molded.  But if we repent and again seek the Lord, he will relent from destroying us and continue to mold and shape us until we are perfect, conformed to the likeness of God's Son. (Rom 8:29)

God has endeavors to create from the beginning of time men and women who would reflect his glory and seek his face.  Even to this day he is still creating them, male and female he is creating them.  Will you resist the potter's hand or be molded into glory?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Revelation 9:20-21

"The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts."

 The heart of man is desperately wicked even unto the end of the world.  It is a sad reality we must realize that some men and women will die in their sin because of their stubbornness and hardheartedness. These people are seeing but never perceiving, hearing but never understanding lest they turn and be healed.  Goats cannot be turned into sheep anymore than weeds can be wheat, but Christ knows the difference and will sort them out in the last days.

So what is the difference? The elect, upon hearing the truth of Jesus Christ, will love him for they know the voice of their master intuitively.  However, the rejected will resist Christ and his gospel until the day they die.

So how can you tell if you are elect?  All of the elect want to be elect and all of the rejected could care less about Christ and his gospel.  So if you want to be elect, chances are that God has already chosen you from before time began to be elect and has instilled in you the desire to follow Christ.  All that's left is to actually follow Him.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Revelation 4:10

"the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne..."

It is fascinating that these twenty four elders, whoever they might be, are given crowns.  Whether these are literal crowns (Ps 21:3; Rev 4:4) or crowns of glory (1Pe 5:4) and righteousness for having completed the race (2Tim 4:8) or the crown of life (James 1:12; Rev 2:10) or perhaps even crowns of people ("For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy." 1Th 2:19) it does not matter much.  The interesting thing is that these crowns are given so that they may be laid at the feet of He who sits on the throne as an act of worship.

So it is that the earthly realm was made to reflect the heavenly realm where worship is an eternal reality that all things given on earth are to be used to worship God just as it is in heaven.  If God has granted you riches, than worship God with riches.  If he has given you rags, then worship Him with rags.  Worship God with whatever God has given you for those who receive crowns from God are those who are willing to give them back in worship and humility.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2 Timothy 2:24-26

"And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will."

Senseless arguments are not necessary in God's kingdom.  There is no discourse that can happen among those who are unwilling and not open to the Gospel which is why Christ commands that we simply "shake the dust off or feet" (Mk 6:11) and walk away. It is why Paul left Athens and had little harvest there and why he rejoices so greatly for cities like Ephesus, Philippi, and Corinth who embrace the Gospel with faith.  There is no argument so clever or human words so persuasive that can open a hardened heart or uncover blind eyes.  God alone does these things.

But instead of quarrel, the Lord's servant is kind, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, and correcting with gentleness. Then God might grant repentance leading to knowledge of truth that they might escape from the schemes of the Devil.  Salvation comes not through debating the faith, but belongs solely to our God and is his sovereign choice.  Therefore, do not treat your brothers with contempt, but show him gently his error and give him reasons for the hope that you have in Christ.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mark 12:31

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

The popular interpretation of this verse is that you should love people the way you want to be loved.  However, what this verse does not say is that you should love someone as if they were you.  Not only is such thinking about this verse wrong, but it's completely self-centered.  You love people they way they want to be loved, not the way you want to love them as we all have different love languages.

For some, gifts are symbols of love where others could care less about sentimentality of objects but really appreciate kind and affirming words.  It is not loving someone when you hug someone who doesn't want to be hugged, especially if you know they don't like them and do it anyway, even though you like hugs.

And yet this lie and misinterpretation has been told to us since kindergarten (The Golden Rule: treat people the way you want to be treated.)  Jesus isn't wrong, but our understanding is.  To love someone as yourself is a call to a radical shift in mindset.  When you love someone, you are actually loving yourself.  When one person is the body of Christ is happy, we all rejoice. When the line between me and you starts to dissipate and two start to become one and the entire Church body becomes one as Christ and the Father are one, then you will see and understand what it means to love someone as yourself for you'll no longer exist.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Proverbs 13:15

Good judgment wins favor,
   but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction.

Being a Christian is going to be the hardest thing you will ever do.  The standards are high, the path is small, and the gate is narrow.  It is a long race of endurance and in the end it will cost you everything to run itJesus asks his disciples to deny themselves and carry the cross, to suffer persecutions for his Name's sake, and to give up their mother and father, brothers and sisters, wives and children, and even their own lives so that Jesus takes precedence.  He asks you to leave everything and come follow him.  Indeed, the way of God is costly.

But even more costly is the way of the unfaithful.  They breed misery and destruction.  They hunger for more and are never satisfied.  They use and oppress each other for selfish gain and as soon as they amass wealth they realize the bitterness and loneliness of life for nothing can satisfy a man's soul like Christ.  And to top off their so called "fabulous lifestyle" is destruction.  They spend their entire lives trying to gain all things only to lose it all in death, but a Christian seeks to lose all things only to gain them all in eternal life.  Truly those who seek to save their lives will lose them, but those who lose their lives for Christ's sake will save them.

Now which one costs more?  Why work for that which you cannot keep?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Isaiah 1:24-26

"Therefore the Lord, the LORD Almighty,
   the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes
   and avenge myself on my enemies.
I will turn my hand against you;
   I will thoroughly purge away your dross
   and remove all your impurities.
I will restore your leaders as in days of old,
   your rulers as at the beginning.
Afterward you will be called
   the City of Righteousness,
   the Faithful City."

God never ceases to amaze.  God vents his wrath not for the sake of destroying sinners, but to restore his holy people.  His turning of his hand against us is the same as his removing all unrighteousness.  He wants to restore us back to what were were at the beginning so that afterward we would be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful city.

However, the restoration and purification of God's elect involves the removal of those who are not God's elect.  All who have sinned and gone astray will be purged as dross so that only the faithful remain.  But not one of us is elect.  All have sinned and are unrighteous, only to be purged, had not God sent His Righteous One to intercede for us.  Only one has been faithful and obedient, Jesus Christ, and it is only as we find ourselves in him that we take part in the life of the elect for only Christ is elect.  For the sake of one righteous man, God spared the world.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Matthew 21:29-31

" “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
   “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
    “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
   “The first,” they answered."

You can take all the time you need to tell God how much you don't want to do something.  God understands, for the heart of man is desperately wicked (Jer 17:9).

In the end, it does not matter if you want to do something or not, only that it gets done.  And it should be no surprise to us that God will call us to do things we do not want to do!  In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."  If you are called to be like Christ, you are called to a life of self-denial and obedience like Christ.  These things are hard!

But the thing is, Jesus understands what he's asking you to do, and he asks you to do them anyway.  He knows full well what you can endure and what you can accomplish if you put your trust in him.  He knows you don't want to do them, and yet he still asks.  And so the only question that remains is do you have the faith to follow Christ, even to the cross?  If not, pray for faith, otherwise for strength and endurance.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Isaiah 1:9

Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah. 

 God's inequity is not God's injustice.  In God's wrath, some will perish.  It is the inevitable truth that not all people will be saved on that great and fearful day.  Such is the heart of a man that is desperately sick (Jer 17:9), resisting even in the last days (Rev 9:20).  Even the greatest of evangelists during our time understand this, that sometimes you just need to kick the dust off your feet and move on (Matt 10:14; Mark 6:11).

Is God being unfair or unjust by choosing to save only some?  By no means! God did not have to save anyone at all.  All men have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God (Rom 3:23), the glory they were made to reflect (Gen 1:27).  Again and again, we see God punishing mankind for their sins, but never to the extent it deserves.  Genesis 6, Exodus 32, and all through Judges and the prophets, and yet he never fully erases humanity from the face of the Earth.

So we say with great thanksgiving,

Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah. 

Our God is overflowing with grace and mercy, forgiving sins for no reason other than that it pleased him to do so through the death of His own Son, Jesus Christ.  Thanks be to God!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:21

"You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

Covetousness is a denial of God's character as provider.  It is an attitude which states that God has in fact not given you everything you need in the present moment.  It is a failure to be content with what God has given you in His grace and mercy.  This lust for "more" leads to misery because you can never get everything you want and even when you have it, you will be left wanting more.

Truth be told, God has given you everything you need to be happy.  This is why those in abject poverty can rejoice, despite having nothing.  It's what causes rich people to be miserable while their servants live content lives.  God gave us his only Son to fulfill our every need and covetousness is a denial that Jesus Christ's sacrifice is all sufficient.

Not only that, but it causes us to sin against our neighbor, as David did to Uriah the Hittite in killing him in order to cover up his adultery with Bathsheba, his wife.  We see covetousness leading to adultery, deception, and ultimately murder.  We can see how breaking one commandment quickly leads to breaking more and more because sin begets sin and multiplies like an infection.  Just remember that all things are grace and undeserved and you will be content with everything.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:20

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."

Every commandment (except for 4 and 5) were in the form of prohibitions (You shall not...), and each of them have their equal but opposite counterparts. In general, the counterpart of all the commandments is "Love God" and "Love your neighbor".  The ten commandments are specifics on how not to love.  Because loving someone is a discipline and varies greatly from situation to situation and person to person, God has chosen for the most part to not list instructions on how to love.  However, certain actions are in no way loving and should be avoided if the commandment is to be kept.  These are not necessarily an all encompassing instruction on how to love, but rather how to not break the commandment to love.

That being said, bearing false testimony against your neighbor certainly isn't loving them.  When the Pharisees brought false testimony against Jesus in order to convict and kill him, they certainly weren't loving him.  Actually, they hated him.  And who is your neighbor?  Those who have mercy on others (Luke 10:36-37) and imitate God.  So do not slander your fellow servants in Christ nor treat them with contempt to try and tear them down out of jealousy or hatred like the Pharisees who hated their fellow Jew, Jesus Christ.  Rather build one another up (1Cor 14:26), speaking in psalms, hymns and Spiritual songs (Eph 5:19).  This is loving your neighbor.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:19

"You shall not steal."

  We all steal.  Perhaps we call it borrowing without asking, or we have some other clever name for it, but regardless, taking something which we have no right to take is in fact, stealing.  There are many excuses for stealing, such as "It was just going to waste anyway" or "No one is going to miss it" or even worse "I deserve it because of..."

Stealing is hardly considered a major offense today, but it is included with commandments prohibiting murder and adultery and carries the same consequences.  What's the big deal?  While the damage may be minimal to those you steal from, the self-destructiveness of stealing is catastrophic.  Stealing and dishonesty go hand in hand and those who steal tend also to be liars (in order to cover up their thievery).  Stealing is a gateway sin which leads to many others (covetousness, pride, deceit, greed, etc.)

But "He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need." (Eph 4:28)  The opposite of stealing is not "not stealing" but rather generosity.  We are called to lives that give of themselves selflessly as a reflection of our generous Lord.  Stealing is a denial of the image of God we were made in and an affront to his glory because we are not able to reflect Him properly.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:18

"You shall not commit adultery." 

When we remember that anyone who breaks any of these commandments is subject to death, we can begin to understand the seriousness of adultery.  Why?  Because adultery is a force so powerful and destructive that it can singlehandedly become grounds for divorce (Mt 5:31).  Adultery destroys relationships.  It takes two people who were bonded together and rips them apart, tearing at their hearts and souls and unleashed so much emotional pain and turmoil that it is an affront to God.  No parent can stand to see their children heartbroken, and neither can God.

And yet, Jesus says that the one who looks at a woman lustfully commits adultery with her in his heart (same goes for women).  Recognizing the destructive power of adultery, Jesus's solution is graphic:  If your eyes look lustfully, cut them out.  If your hand causes you to sin, (say by touching another person lustfully) cut it off and throw it away.  You know why?  Because it is easier to cut off one's own body parts than to correct a heart that lusts.

With man such correction is impossible.  No matter how hard you try, you will never escape your sinfulness, but thank God he has sent us a savior!  Now even when we sin, we have one who intercedes for us and defends us before the throne of God.  It is Christ living in us that transforms us by the power of the Holy Spirit not to lust for only he can fulfill our every need. With Christ in us, what else is their to lust for?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:17

"You shall not murder."

Those who read the Bible without insight see this commandment as hypocrisy.  God commands us not to murder, but does he not take life?  Does he not also command others to kill? Such people do not understand the spirit of the commandment.

If a man is wicked and unrepentant and causes much suffering while he is alive, God's justice dictates this man be removed from the earth not to punish the wicked man but to protect the innocent.  God is also the one who gave life in the first place to be used not for wickedness but for good.  The life we own is a life borrowed from eternity, entrusted to our care by the creator God.  We are not to do as we please with it, especially depriving another of their gift of life as well.

The spirit of this commandment is one that requires us not only to murder someone in our hands, but in our hearts as well.  Life was not granted to be spent hating each other.  Such hatred is not of God and has no place in God's creation.  God cannot dwell in hearts that are filled with malice (not the same as anger).  He cannot be worshiped by a heart filled with hate.  This is why murder and hatred share the same judgment. (Mt 5:22)

Forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and love are from God.  The command not to hate and murder is the same command to love God and your neighbor stated different ways.  Do not hold onto bitterness, but learn to forgive and let go for in the end it will only destroy you.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:16

"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you."

Honor you mother and father not because they are worth honoring, but because the Lord has commanded it.  Some of us have had great and God fearing parents, but many aren't so fortunate.  Some parents do not deserve respect but we do not honor parents based on what they deserve for God does not honor us that way.  We honor our parents based on God's command so that we might live long and that it might go well with us.  We honor our parents for our sake, not for theirs.

Honor and obedience are neither the same.  One can obey their parents without honoring them.  Give your parents the proper respect and do not treat them with contempt or bitterness.  Submit to them insofar as it is not destructive because Christ first submitted to you.  When you honor your parents, you are not honoring them, but Christ and his words.  Again it matters little what they deserve, but the spirit of submission is the spirit of freedom.

We are to be mutually subordinate out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21).  When we submit to others, do not be surprised if they return the favor.  Only in submission are we free at last to love unconditionally and to value others above ourselves.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:12

"Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you."

The Sabbath is easily one of the most neglected gifts of God.  Our bodies were made to work and to rest.  It is commanded for proper maintenance of our bodily functions.  But the most important reason to take a Sabbath is not that it is good for us to do (which obeying all of God's commandments are), but because God himself does it.

The LORD God, who is always working (Jn 5:17), and does not in anyway need rest since he does not grow tired, rested after 6 days of creation.  God made that seventh day Holy by setting it apart from every other day.  It is a day to sit back and reflect on the goodness of God and of his creation and to do nothing apart from beholding and worshiping God so that we may truly live in his presence.  And believe me, God is so big that you are going to need all the time you can get to behold him!

An entire day written into the cosmos and ordained from the beginning of time for rest, relaxation, peace, joy, and celebration and here we sit thinking of how to get ahead with the extra time.  You'd think people would not need convincing to enjoy the sabbath made for them, but it was so bad God actually had to command us to relax and enjoy life. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:11

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

When things are done in the name of the Lord, they are done for his glory.  If you read acts, you will see an account of miracles and demonstrations of the Spirit's power all done in the name of Jesus.  To use the name of the LORD is to ascribe credit, honor, and glory to him for something done.  His is a powerful name, but with great power comes great responsibility.

To misuse God's name is to slander it.  If you call yourself by God's name and identify yourself as in Christ, but by your actions you prove yourself still captive to sin, you slander the name by which you call yourself.  Do not claim to belong to Christ if you hate your neighbor or practice unforgiveness or judge others lest you attribute to Christ that which dirties his reputation.  God's name is his character and reputation and many atrocities have been committed "in His name" both by the Church and misguided individuals.

Christ certainly has no need for those who will misrepresent Him and distort his name because it is by His name we are saved.  If the world cannot see his name, how then can it be saved?  Those who distort the name of God shut the doors of heaven for all who try to enter in including themselves.  (Matthew 23)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:8-10

“You shall not make for yourself an idol ... You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." 

Although idolatry is one of the worst offenses to God because he will not share his glory with another (Is 42:8), what is interesting about this commandment is God's jealousy.  He has chosen us for his own not so that we can give his praise over to lifeless statues.  As a husband is jealous for his wife, and will not share her with another, so also is the Lord jealous for us.

At first glance, God seems mean and vengeful, punishing children for the mistakes of their fathers to the third and fourth generation.  It seems excessive and cruel until you realize the extent of his love.  He shows love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.    Compare three and four generations to a thousand and you will see the abundance of God's mercy. His love goes a lot farther than his justice. For just one person who loves the LORD and obeys all he commands, God will love and bless his children to the thousandth generation!

That one person is Christ and we rejoice in Him.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:6-7

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me."

The divine existence of the Holy God requires the choosing of a people to be set apart, a holy people.  God chose Israel to be his own and brought them up out of the land of Egypt and gave to them their own land.  And what reason did he have for doing this?  So that they might worship Him (Ex 4:23).

And so he is the LORD your God because he has chosen to be your God.  He has chosen you and has rescued you out of the bondage of slavery (to sin and death) in order that you might worship Him and him alone.  You were not saved by any other God nor is there any power or created thing that is able to save you in times of trouble.  Call out to your friends, your family, your wealth, or your loved ones, but not a single one of them is able to save you from death.

But the LORD has defeated death and has risen from the grave!  Just as he defeated Pharaoh's armies and cast them into the sea, so to does Satan now stand condemned and death powerless to hold us who are in Christ.  Praise be to the Father for electing us unto eternal life!

Monday, August 22, 2011

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 

 The LORD cares for absolutely everything that bothers you, even if it is small and ridiculous.  He cares for you and how you are doing.  He pops in every now and then just to see how you are.  He is always there to listen to you vent about a stressful day or to calm your fears and worries.  He provides even for the smallest details if you ask him to.

So often we only ask God for big things, but he who is able to handle big issues can certainly take care of smaller ones as well.  Peter says to cast all of your anxieties on Him, not just the ones you don't think you can handle.  Humble yourself and give to him your anxiety and he will give you grace.  Allow yourself to be put under God's complete and total care and he will lift you up.

There is no use pretending to be strong.  What good is choosing to suffer alone for the sake of keeping up appearances?  It is a mark of maturity to know when to ask for help.  It is a sign of humility.  And the strangest thing happens when someone is humble and asks for help:  they receive it from those who care for them.  So cast all your anxieties upon the Lord because he cares for you, and he will give you rest.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

John 15:26

"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me."

One of the Holy Spirit's main functions is to testify about the identity of Jesus Christ.  However, he does not testify with persuasive words or clever arguments, but with a demonstration of power so that faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. (1Cor 2:4)  It is the Holy Spirit which witnesses the world that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and without him we cannot testify.

In the book of Acts, we see the Holy Spirit testify through men such as Peter, John, Stephen, and Paul.  He fills us and enables us to speak the word of God boldly (Acts 4:31)  so that we can be, as Christ commanded, "his witnesses in Jerusalem and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth." (Acts 1:8)

The power of the Holy Spirit is the power to testify through the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.  These things are not of this world are are signs that there exists another world which they are from.  This world is filled with rage, pain, selfishness, lewdness, drunkenness, death and immorality but the Holy Spirit testifies there is life to be had outside of this world.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mark 10:15

"Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

 This is one of the more enigmatic statements of Jesus and one of 11 Amen sayings found in Mark.  With a narrow minded focus, it is not apparent what Jesus means by "like a child", but a closer look reveals that Mark illustrates exactly what Jesus means.  It is no accident that the parable of the Rich young ruler follows this endearing story of Jesus and the little children.  The contrast is clear between the children and the rich young ruler, those who have nothing and those who have everything.

We see this rich man failing to enter into the kingdom of God despite receiving a personal invitation from Christ because he could not receive it like a child.  Jesus makes a synonymous statement in Mark 10:23 "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"

The kingdom belongs to those who would give up everything to follow Christ (for some it is more than others).  It belongs to those who are able to follow and submit like little children in obedience to their Father.  Humility is the trait that allows one to submit to a greater authority and be taught by One wiser than yourself.  To be humble is to simply know where you stand in relation to God.  One gets to the kingdom by following the One who knows the way, Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Acts 3:6

Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."

We have all been given gifts and talents by God and it is no secret that Jesus requires us to use them. (Mt 25:14-30)  Peter was not blessed with wealth, but what he had received from God he gave in the name of Jesus Christ. He gave the beggar something far better than what he asked for.

Peter spent day in and day out next to Jesus and witnessed firsthand the power of his Name to heal.  He received this same gift from Christ who appointed him to be a witness for him not by the power of his own wisdom (for he was an unlearned fisherman) but by the power of the Spirit.  How sad it would have been if Christ gave him the power to heal and he did not use it!

But in the same way, Christ has given us all the power to heal.

It starts only with giving someone your time and attention, your love and care.  Beggars may ask you for money, but if God has given you some spare time and the capacity to love, give them that.  Give them what they truly need:  Their dignity and worth as God's created human beings.  One dollar can open the door to a conversation.  A cup of coffee and 15 minutes of time can be all you need to save a soul.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Leviticus 18:5

"Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them.  I am the LORD."

What does it mean when God says "I am the LORD" and why is it used as a basis of command?  The LORD is good, kind, gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Ex 34:6-7)  On this basis God establishes his authority to command.  Because of his divine character, we can trust in his judgment.  Because of who he is, we can delight in his laws. We know they are for our good because we know who God is by who he has revealed himself as in the person of Jesus Christ (Col 1:15).

And those who obey will live by the commandments. The meaning is twofold: that they will both live in accordance with the Law and that it is obedience to God which brings life.  Jesus completely agrees as well.  The New Testament does not abolish the Law so that we can pretend it no longer applies.  Rather Christ fulfills the Law (Rom 8:3-4) and does away with the curse by becoming a curse for us (Gal 3:13), but we still must obey Christ for the man who obeys will live.

Grace does not do away with the necessity of obedience but rather the curses of disobedience. However, obedience comes only through faith and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit who guides us and reminds us of all that Christ taught.  Those who try to obey on their own strength of will are subject to the curses (Gal 3:3-10), but those who are righteous by faith will live. (Rom 1:17)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Isaiah 43:13

"Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?"

This is true power, that whenever you act it will not be stopped or undone.  God is the Almighty creator of all that is seen and unseen.  No one can destroy what he has created.  We know this from Chemistry and thermodynamics, that mass/energy can neither be created nor destroyed.  All there is in the world is all there will ever be.  Can anyone undo what God did?

Divine omnipotence is not the ability to do anything, as commonly misconceived, but the divine quality that when one acts, it will be accomplished.  Whatever God does he accomplishes.  Whatever he starts, he will finish.  When He acts, who can reverse it?  The Chief priests and elder scribes thought to end the life of Jesus by handing him over to crucifixion.  They thought they had power, but God reversed Christ's death. The Holy One lives and will never see decay.  None can hope to reverse his resurrection for he has shown that not even death could hold him.

Praise be to God that the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead lives in us who believe in what God has done in order that we too might be raised to eternal life!  Because God has decreed that we be delivered from our sins, who can reverse it?  Thankfully, no one at all, Hallelujah!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

John 8:58

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!”

 Such a bold statement demands a response.  There is no option to "wait and see" or to react passively.  When the Jews heard what Jesus said, they picked up rocks to stone him immediately.  The weight and implications of what Jesus said about himself are immense and cannot be ignored.  Jesus claims to be greater than Abraham, the Sovereign I AM, the God of Abraham, Israel, Isaac, and Jacob.

And yet, so many upon hearing that Jesus is God react as if it were no big deal.  Perhaps they do not yet realize the vast implications of it or are jaded and cynical, but whatever the reason they do not react.  They neither pick up rocks nor bow down to worship.  They sit on the sidelines of a battlefield pretending that the war does not affect them.

With this truth claim, you must choose to accept or reject Christ.  There is no middle ground.  There is no "true for you but not for me."  The entire world is caught up in the battle between heaven and hell and all those who do not choose a side will be enemies of both and friends of neither.

Here's a secret:  The battle has already been decided and the war won by Christ, the war fought to save those that were lost, namely you, me, and the rest of mankind.  So now it's time to choose:  Believe Christ or stone him? It's up to you.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Deuteronomy 8:17-18

You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

 All that you are and all that you have are the LORD's.  All that you earn he first created.  All that you ascribe value to were first made by Him.  What is valuable to man is rubbish to God.  Would you bribe him with cash?  Is he impressed by your technology?  Can you match his strength or display such great feats as He?

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, the LORD did not kill them and start over.  Rather he clothed them.  Did they need clothes?  Of course not for God made them naked not needing clothes.  But he provided for them what they desired because he is good and provides good gifts for his children.  The LORD does not value clothing or cash.  He values us.

He gives us prosperity not because he values prosperity, but because he loves us and he knows we value it.  He gives us the ability to produce wealth not because he wants us to be wealthy (and thus be in danger of becoming proud and forgetting him), but because he loves us and wants us to turn to him and depend on him, to acknowledge him as they sole provider for our every need.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Isaiah 52:12

"But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard."

One of the best things about following Christ is that even though the future may be uncertain and scary to you, God already knows what is up ahead.  The God who created all things, including time, knows every single thing that will occur.  He can move about freely through time because he is of a higher dimension. He can fast forward, pause, and rewind as he sees fit. He is the author of both time and space.

And all of time is like a single instant to God for to him a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. (Psalms 90:4) When God created the universe, he did not create a single moment, but a single story, the difference between snapping a picture and making a movie, however this movie is played out in real time as God is able to step into time and make edits as it plays.

So the LORD, the God of Israel will go before you to prepare your way, so do not worry about the future.  And the LORD will guard your back as you press forward so you need not fear your past either.  You are free to live and free to be as God made you to be, free from fear and just as God stepped into time, he has enabled us to step with him into eternity.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

John 14:26

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."

 The Bible is unlike any other book in that just can't simply read it and understand it.  Although the words are physical the truths it conveys are spiritual so that to those who read it without faith may be "seeing but never perceiving" and "hearing but never understanding."  This is God's judgment upon them lest they turn and be forgiven.  (Mark 4:12; Isa 6:9.10)

However, they need but just confess their sins and they will receive the Holy Spirit who teaches them all things.  God's judgment is absolute, but he himself in his mercy has allowed it to be circumvented through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.  Now God himself has come down to teach us and empower us in the person of the Holy Spirit to obey that law which brings life. (Micah 4:2; Is 2:3)

The Holy Spirit guides us into all Truth (which is Christ) and reminds us of God's Word when we need it most.  Man lives by every Word that comes out of God's mouth (Deut 8:3), and the Holy Spirit is the author of those words.  He has spoken through his people and the result is the Holy Bible.  The Word is Christ (Jn 1:1) and without him we shall surely perish.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Deuteronomy 5:29

"Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!"

This is the LORD's hope and prayer for us. His one desire here is to see it go well with us and our children forever.  He has given us his divine precepts, the Ten Commandments, in order that we might live healthy and blessed lives.  His intention is not to harm us or to condemn us, but so that we might prolong our days and live.  The Law was meant for our good, but because of sin in us, it has brought about our destruction (cf. Rom 7).

We break the rules and cast aside the law which was put in place for our own protection and benefit.  We believed the lie that it is a restriction on our freedom when it was the very thing that allowed us to enjoy it without fear.  We have thrown ourselves into bondage as slaves to unrighteousness and have brought about our own destruction.  Who will save us?

But God's prayer is not frustrated.  He is the Almighty, able to do anything he sets his will to.  By his strength he has rescued us from sin and caused us to live.  By his grace through faith in His Son Jesus it will go well for us who fear the LORD.  Where the law made us willing, the Spirit now makes us able.  No longer do we live according to our own sinful desire, but we live by God and God alone.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Romans 11:36

"For from him and through him and for him are all things.
   To him be the glory forever! Amen."

Everything was made by Christ, through Christ, and for Christ, including you.  You were made with Christ in mind.  You were made with a place already carved out into you for him to dwell.  You were made to contain the Almighty God!  You sit and wonder how can such an enormous God fit inside such a tiny person?  He doesn't, but rather he fills you until you overflow with his power, glory, and righteousness.  You were made to be just like Him, made in the image of Christ, to reflect his glory and to sing his praise.  And as Christians we claim to be "little Christs", laying hold of our true identities in Him.

All things belong to Christ and all that we have is grace from God and blessing from on high.  Our very lives are the breath of God which animates us.  All that we hunger for and all that we eat was made by Christ and given to us by his generosity.  He, being completely free and totally independent of anything outside himself, chose to create us and more so chose to be our God.  That is the ultimate grace and its very meaning.  You were made with God in mind.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Judges 17:9

"In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit."

The days of Judges were chaos. People killed without mercy for there was no law enforced.  The Law existed as given to Moses, but the people abandoned it and did what was wicked in the LORD's sight.  This is the result of lawbreaking: chaos.  When people start to say to each other "You do want you want and I'll do what I want and we'll all be happy", they simply delude themselves into thinking they have peace.

For when two people both want opposite things, conflict arises and wars break out.  People are hurt and many innocents will be laid waste all for the sake of selfish ambition and personal gain.  When you don't play by the rules, the game ceases to be fun and enjoyable.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, not fought over.

That is why God gave us his law in order that we might know what is good.  And this is why he fulfilled the law in Christ in order that we may have peace in him.  By the power of the Holy Spirit who enables us to keep the law, he enables us to be at peace and harmony.  No longer are we called enemies, but He calls us friends.  Now Jesus Christ is King forever so that we might have peace forever!  This is why he is called "The Prince of Peace".

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Psalms 13:6

"I will sing to the Lord,
for he has been good to me."

This is the end verse to Psalm 13 and it makes no sense if you actually read Psalm 13.  The Psalmist begins in lines 1 and 2 "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?"  This is a LORD that is good?

But this is what it means to trust in the LORD.  David was clearly depressed and anxious, and yet through thick and thin he trusts in God.  He never gives up hope because he knows who God is.  He trusts in his salvation and his unfailing love, even though it seems his love is failing.  And he nonetheless sings his praises as he reflects on every good thing God has given.

In your depression, remember your blessings.  Jesus, while dying on the cross, also sang the opening lines of Psalm 22, praising God in his distress because of the salvation he trusts in even though he lay dying and knew he would not survive.  And what did God do?  He raised him to life and saved him even from death!  Death is not the end for those who trust in the LORD's salvation and sing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

John 6:37-38

"However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will."

 Everything we saw the Jesus do we know was the will of the Father.  God's will is revealed in Jesus Christ.  He will heal the sick.  He will forgive the sinner.  He will save the lost.  He will calm the storms.  He will never reject those who belong to him.  Whatever we have seen Jesus do we know the Father does for Jesus only does that which his Father wills.  He is the perfect picture of the Father and no one knows the Father except through Jesus Christ.  

Without Jesus, the Father is vastly misunderstood.  People are quick to interpret who God is by what God does instead of letting who God is interpret what God does.  If God chooses to bring calamity on a person, you could forget the context and just conclude that God is cruel and punishing.  It's the Fundamental attribution error at work.  Once you understand that God is loving and just, you will understand why calamity was brought upon the wicked:  So that the righteous might be spared from their schemes.

But if you don't understand who Jesus is, you don't know the Father.  And he wants to be known and has chosen to reveal himself to all he has given to Christ.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mark 4:38

"Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"

"Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" These are the words of the disciples, unaware that Christ's very presence was an answer to his question.  God does in fact care that we are perishing.  That is why he came down to us in order that we might live.

And yet Jesus was found asleep on the boat as it was tossed and turned by the waves on the open sea. How could Jesus remain so calm when death seemed imminent?  Either he doesn't care or they were not perishing.  Judging that God came down from heaven to save us, the latter must be true.

In the presence of Christ, we will never perish.  If He who is eternal lives in us, how can we die?  And if we who have been baptized died to sin, how then can we die to it once more?  We have been reborn so that the life we have we live to God so if you feel like you are perishing, ask yourself, "Is the LORD with me?" for if He is, you have nothing to fear.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Isaiah 35:4-6

"Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.  Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert."

 Are these not the things that happened when Christ came upon the Earth?  When our LORD set foot upon this land, were not the eyes of the blind opened?  Did not deaf people hear?  Were cripples and paralytics not leaping and rejoicing?  And were not the mute shouting with joy in praise of their savior?  All these things and more happened when the LORD came with retribution and vengeance, and yet we were spared.

We, who sinned against God and against man, were not paid back an equal measure of divine justice for our wickedness.  No, this God who is swift to bring justice instead exacted this wrath upon Satan by using himself as the bait.  Our sins were placed on Christ as the worm is placed on the hook, and this time it was Satan who was tempted to take a bite.  And so the serpent bit at his heel which in turn crushed his head (Gen 3:15).

So now we have everlasting water so that we may never thirst again.  That even though we walk through the wilderness, our God has already been there.  His path has been made straight as he leads us to Zion.  And we are never alone.  Never again will we be alone.